My brother-in-law Paul and sister-in-law Shirley are visiting us here in Winnipeg. We took them on the Bison Safari at Fort Whyte.
Our guide was excellent, a veritable walking encyclopedia of bison knowledge. He hypothesized that the near annihilation of the bison on the prairies in the late 1800s was actually a way to try to annihilate the Indigenous people since they depended on the bison so completely for their way of life. We rode in a bus out to the large bison enclosure and followed the herd while our guide told us more about the bison. We learned the difference between bison and buffalo. Did you know bison are the largest mammal that can jump and get all four legs off the ground or that they can keep up a 60 km. running pace for more than an hour? We got to touch bison fur and learned it is so warm in winter bison don’t seek shelter even at 40 below temperatures.
Dave is taking this sharp bison horn seriously. The guide told us that competing males at Fort Whyte had once fought and one died after the other bison rammed its horn into his body. Bison horn was used by the Indigenous people to make musical instruments,cups, powder horns, spoons and toys. We saw the wallows that dotted the field, where the bison roll around on the ground in summer to get rid of biting insects
Our guide told us bison aren’t that smart and have a real herd mentality. Herds are led by cows not bulls. The bison’s sense of sight is poor but they have a great sense of smell and hearing.
On previous visits to Fort Whyte the bison have been more frisky and we’ve been allowed out of the bus to take photos. That didn’t happen this time but hopefully our guests still enjoyed learning a little more about the plains bison the official Manitoba animal.
Other posts about bison……..